More Ignorance and Bliss, Please

I’ll take mine… to go, please!, is the blog of the wife of a former journalist who took his buy-out check and is entering the US Foreign Service. The “Hopeful Foreign Service Officer, and family. Waiting to be invited to DC, then, who knows where?” are leaving their our 4 bedroom 2.5 bath house in a planned community for a life of adventure living overseas. She has been following the unapproved edition of realities of Foreign Service life unfolding online; and even took the trouble to summarize the various comments posted under the original controversial material (also see I’ll take a scoop of dust to go, please…) Click here to see her summary. Below is part of what she wrote:

[G]eez, people, you’re killing me here. I’m waiting to enter this life. I need a little more ignorance and bliss. These kinds of comments aren’t exactly recruitment material.[…]

OK, folks. Don’t think I’m naive. I know what I’m getting myself into. My eyes are open.

It’s kind of like having kids. I love my kids and all the wonderful things about them. Life is richer for knowing them. I have a different view of the world due to them. I wouldn’t trade it. I also know childbirth hurts. I know what 10cm means. I read all the books and knew what to expect when I was expecting. And I chose no pain meds, three times. But when I see a friend pregnant, expecting her first child I don’t tell her about 10 cm, I don’t tell her about stitches or other gory details.
Here’s my “10 cm” staring me right in the face…sewage, feces, smells, parasites, diarreah, vomit, bombs, PTSD, exploding animals, dust storms, coma kids, damaged membranes, bugged houses, armored vehicles, overworked, underpaid, disease, evacuated, carjacked, surveillance, loneliness, isolation…Thanks people.
I can’t do anything about ignorance; I was once acquainted with it; did not like it one bit.
But I can help with bliss, I think.
Jodi H in the Dominican Republic is a clinical social worker by trade, but currently makes her living by “figuring out how to get my family fed in this crazy life called the Foreign Service.” She writes the blog, For Lack of Tacos (The Culinary Adventures of a Foreign Service Spouse). Excerpt below:
The sun was shining in my kitchen window where I look out at beautiful Caribbean flowers and hear the pool pump (yes, my husband is an Entry Level Officer and we have a pool – don’t blame us, we just showed up and there e it was) and wind chimes (always blowing with the nice sea breeze even though we are about two miles from the water). Life was good. I wasn’t rushing. I had plenty of time to make the short walk over to the boys’ school to pick them up. I was singing happy songs in my head.
I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, but I wouldn’t trade all of the time I have had with my boys in the past year (we reached our one year FS anniversary this week). In DC and here in Santo Domingo, we have had free reign of millions of adventures. In our family, I am the one who has ended up knowing how to navigate our new cities. And I can’t imagine giving up the opportunity to live abroad. But, at the same time, I wonder if making tortillas is my best me. Perhaps I should be doing something more productive. Maybe I should be making more of an attempt to return to my professional life in some form.
The very recent truth is…and this is a reality that is, for some reason, difficult for me to admit…I actually really, really love my non-professional life (whatever that means). Making tortillas gives me great joy. I’m trying to remind myself to admit to the great happiness I feel with what I am doing now and not get hung up on what I believed would make me happy when we started this journey. Life is so teeming with unpredictability – especially in the Foreign Service – what an opportunity for reinvention. So, with my apparently successful bid at making a likeable tortilla, I am reminded of the need to embrace the wide-open space ahead, spoon in hand and possibly a dash of reinvention here and there. These things make me happy. My life is good. I make tortillas.
Now that’s bliss. 
So sometimes you even get a pool. But most times, there won’t be a pool. Worse, water might even be rationed 2-3 times a week.  You stop taking baths and learn to take 2 minute showers, like two minute toothbrush. But here’s the funny part — after potty training your kids and teaching them to flush, you might have to start teaching them the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rhyme. After months of trying and getting right the action that comes with that rhyme — you get to return to the US, make them unlearn that rhyme or worse, send them to the “must-flush” re-education camp. 

It doesn’t happen every day. But it happens. Sometimes,  life may sound like a great adventure in the bush, sometimes it sounds full of “10 cm” stuff. Reality is somewhere in the middle.

And like Forrest Gump says about  life as a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get. In the Foreign Service, you can “bid” and hope you get the best chocolate.  But your “best” chocolate, may not be the next person’s “best” chocolate. And your neighbor’s best, may not be yours.